|2012 March for Life in Washington, D.C.|
This afternoon I will leave with eleven college students from the Catholic Center at ETSU to attend the national March for Life in Washington, D.C. This will be the fifteenth time that I have attended the March. Last year, after returning from the march a friend shared an editorial from a person who is pro-choice and who happens to have a comfortable office overlooking the march route. She disdainfully referred to the march in her column as the “great shlep” – looking down on the march goers from her office window. As you might imagine her article was not very complimentary. In honor of her though, I now refer to the March (at least in my own mind) as the “great shlep”.
I googled definitions for “shlep” and this is what I found in the “Urban Dictionary website”:
1. To carry something heavy.
2. To carry something in a dragging fashion, as if tired.
3. To go somewhere, particularly somewhere far away or otherwise difficult to reach; often implies resentment of putting forth such effort.
The elevator was broken, so I had to shlep the TV set up five flights of stairs.
I shlepped my book bag behind me.
I shlepped all the way out here from downtown so you could tell me you feel like staying in tonight?
I think that the word fits. The marchers do carry something heavy – they carry the conscience of a nation. It is a conscience that is hurting yet not silenced. It is a conscience that affirms that there is dignity to all human life which must be upheld. It is a conscience which recognizes that whenever life is devalued in one area then all life is wounded and devalued. It is a conscience which recognizes that there is great harm in abortion – to the beauty of a child lost, to the soul and psyche of the mother and the father and to society as a whole.
This year is the fortieth anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The millions of lives lost is staggering. In so many ways unimaginable. We are tired yet we will continue the shlep. Why? Because it is the right thing to do. History will judge every generation for what it stands for and as our knowledge grows regarding life in the womb I predict that future generations will look on ours and wonder how we could have ever allowed such a thing to happen; just as today we look on past generations and wonder how could slavery and the oppression of women have ever been justified. As we have seen before; just because something is the law of the land that does not make it right. Roe v. Wade is bad law which has wounded, weakened and impoverished the heart of our nation.
In the “great shlep” we are going somewhere – not just to our nation’s capital for a one day event but to the future, to the point where the dignity of all life (from natural birth to natural death) is affirmed and valued. In the language of religion; we are marching to the Kingdom of God. For me, the March for Life is a continuation of the civil rights marches of the sixties. The paraphrase Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the arc of history bends toward justice and that which is right. This is the objective truth that energized and fortified the civil rights movement of the sixties and their great work and it is the same objective truth which emboldens the pro-life movement. There is truth and it will not be denied and all which is untrue will eventually fall away. We are marching toward the future.
So, once again, with prayer and humility I go to the “great shlep”. If I happen to see a woman disdainfully looking down on me and the crowds from her office perch I will smile and wave at her and maybe one day she will come and join us.